Chapter 3. Fossils and stones

Amber inclusions

Here we have a drawer of ancient life from Myanmar locked in amber. Take this magnifying glass. Hold them up to the light. See the feather of a dinosaur, a termite, the foot of a gecko, These creatures come to us from the Mid-Cretaceous. They aren’t really fossils smashed and replaced by stone, but have tissues and bones intact.

Eocene fish

Split out of limestone from the Green River Formation, this early perch. Look at those spines. This fish has been out of water for 34 million years, and still looks fierce.

Tongue stones

These glossopetræ look like tongues. Before 1669, people didn’t know what they were. They found them in the mountains. They thought they grew naturally in the rock. They thought they fell from the sky. Superstition and supposition, lacking a rational explanation, usually serves just fine. Actually, they are petrified shark teeth.

Adobe diamonds

I scraped these myself when I was fifteen, out of rhyolite on Judith Peak in Montana, These double-pointed hexagonal crystals are quartz, not really diamond. I’ve never thought my best years were behind me. Maybe I will after another fifty.

Good-luck stone

I carried a small stone in my pocket much like this for many years, a smooth brown pebble, but then I lost it.